ranking Mr Knightley

My sister showed me Clueless (1995) this afternoon and it inspired this post: ranking all the interpretations of Mr Knightley that I’ve seen on the big or small screen. (Worst to best.)

Mark Strong (1996 ITV adaption)

Image result for emma mark strong

Um…Mark Strong is a villain in The Young Victoria and nothing will make me like or trust him as Mr Knightley.  Yes, I saw this adaption of Emma before The Young Victoria, but I didn’t even like his Mr Knightley then.  He’s very brooding and angry and judgmental and OLD.  I know Mr Knightley does judge Emma (kinda?), but Mark Strong’s take on the character is unnecessarily harsh.

Jeremy Northam (1996 Miramax film adaption)

Image result for emma jeremy northam

I know Jeremy Northam’s Mr Knightley has a LOT of fans and I want to clarify his ranking because of that: the top four Mr Knightleys (lol, there are only five on this list) are extremely hard to list in order of liking.  Northam ended up as #4 simply because I’ve only seen this adaption a couple times (and quite long ago). 

He’s great as Mr Knightley though, from what I can remember – the “Badly done!” scene is particularly good.  I feel like he and Emma are more good friends than a romantic couple in this adaption?  But idk since I haven’t seen the film in a while.  I should though…

Paul Rudd (Clueless – 1995)

Image result for emma paul rudd clueless
is it just me or does he kinda look like a young Ben Affleck in this movie?

Okay, so he’s not even called ‘Mr Knightley’ (it’s Josh Lucas instead).  But I seriously swooned over Paul Rudd’s take on the Mr Knightley type/character.  Super cool how they updated the story.  I love how Rudd was so serious and…Knightley-esque because I’ve only ever seen him as Ant-Man where he’s kind of an idiot. (Well, not an idiot.  But very hilarious and a bit zany?)

I’d honestly pay good money to see him play Actual Mr Knightley.  I think he’d be great. ❤ (And he’d be even higher on this list if Clueless was a straight-up adaption of Emma and not a retelling.)

Johnny Lee Miller (2009 BBC adaption)

Image result for emma jonny lee miller

For the longest time, I would have said that Johnny Lee Miller was my absolute favorite Mr Knightley.  He may not be that much older than Emma (if you’re going by actor/actress ages) but he has that sort of playfully serious thing going on that makes him seem more mature than Romola Garai’s Emma.

And THE PROPOSAL SCENE IS SO ROMANTIC.  They copied and pasted the lines straight from the book and Miller said them all perfectly.  He’s probably the most-faithful-to-the-book Mr Knightley on this list and I love that.

Brent Bailey (Emma Approved – 2013-14)

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Another unique take on Mr Knightley…and my favorite. ❤  Brent Bailey also portrays Book Mr Knightley™ pretty accurately (as accurately as a modern adaption of the character can be).  He’s got this adorable, wry give and take thing going on with Emma and it’s so perfect for them.  I love how he and Emma are equals in every sense and they feel comfortable with calling each other out on stuff. (Though, tbh, it’s usually Alex/Mr Knightley doing the calling out.  Lol.)

Alex and Emma are, like, the sweetest couple.  Adore them both so much.  If you haven’t seen Emma Approved, you REALLY need to check it out.

Do you agree with my rankings?  Have you seen other adaptions/retellings of Emma that I should know about?  Let me know in the comments!


19 thoughts on “ranking Mr Knightley

  1. Now that I watched Clueless I can read this post and comment! I have a like/dislike relationship with Emma, I think. Emma’s dislikable, Mr. Knightley isn’t my ideal, sometimes I prefer inaccurate portrayals of some characters while hating inaccurate portrayals of others, lol.

    1. Jonny Lee Miller. I don’t like the Emma in this adaptation, I think she’s the worst, the acting is terrible and there is a scene towards the end that is more I don’t know a mix of Marianne in excess and Lydia Bennett in absurdity that I just can’t watch. Plus I loved the Kate Beckinsale (the most book accurate Emma) and Mark STrong adaptation first that it took me awhile to warm up. But yes, this is the overall most fun version, and I enjoy his hilarious performance greatly (I think Mr. Knightley is not my overall type though, I mean George, I’d marry John Knightley if he were free).
    2. Paul Rudd. I’m just in a Paul Rudd faze after seeing Ant-Man. I’d LOVE to see him as a period Mr. Knightley. I’m going to have to watch Clueless again, my library’s dvd keep skimming and I felt rushed when watching, but even so, I think it went too fast. He’s the modern correspondant of Johnny Lee Miller.
    3. Mark Strong. Okay, so this was the first Emma adaptation I ever so, and I LOVED this Mr. Knightley. Not sure I wouldn’ve liked Mr. Knightley as a character at all had I seen Jeremy Northam first as everyone else seems to, but then maybe I hate him more because of that. I love the Captain Wentworth (I’ve noticed you don’t) strong and brusque types, and this is that kinda portrayal.
    4. Brent Bailey. He’s kinda the modern equivalent of a blend of Jonny Lee Miller and Jeremy Northam (got a bit of that whinyness)
    5. Jeremy Northam. I hate this adaptation and loathed his whiny, smarmy, spinelessness. He is SO beneath all the other Mr. Knightleys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like Paul Rudd so much – first as Ant-Man and then as Josh. Really liked reading your rankings! (Though I don’t always agree. 😉 )


      1. I didn’t like Ant-Man when I first saw him in Civil War, but after Endgame, man, then I really wanted to watch the Ant-Man movies and enjoyed them, especially the first.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was hoping Brent Bailey would make this list!! 😀 Yaysies.

    His Knightley takes a little while to grow on me, but then I love him. 😉

    My mom and I actually love the Kate Beckinsale Emma the best, and I do like Strong in the role, but I get why people don’t like him.

    Clueless was great fun. 😀

    And Johnny Lee Miller is adorable. ❤

    Fun post idea!


    1. I actually like Kate Beckinsale AS Emma, but Mark Strong is still a yikes from me. 😀

      Yay! Another Clueless fan! (Wow. That sounds kind of…mean. :D)


  3. Johnny Lee Miller is my boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. Forever and always. I’m not saying I want to MARRY HIM or anything–I’ve never wanted to marry Mr. Knightley, in any iteration–but I adore his performance and I think he deserves All the Hugs. ❤

    Brent Bailey is pretty good, too! I think it was hard for me to truly see him as Mr. Knightley, since he doesn't WEAR REGENCY CLOTHES (lol), but, taking that limitation into account, he really did a great job of interpreting the character.

    I'm very curious about Clueless now . . .


    1. Johnny Lee Miller is awesoooooome. ❤ Love his portrayal of Mr Knightley.

      If you want, we can always watch Clueless together when you come up… 😉 Or The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Both are awesome girl-power movies. ❤


  4. I SERIOUSLY need to watch Clueless. I didn’t know Ant-Man played Mr. Knightley??? I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. Even if it IS a retelling. XD

    Is it bad that I’ve only seen two of these shows? (1996 version and Emma Approved) XD Even though I can only really compare those two personally, judging by the pictures and what you’ve said, I wholeheartedly agree with your rankings. EXCEPT I think I liked the 1996 Emma better than Emma Approved, but I’ve seen the movie multiple times, and the YouTube show only once. So. Yeah. XD


      1. I TOTALLY NEED IT. I’m gonna watch it someday. I just need to find it somewhere. XD

        I should!!! It’s a good version… I just prefer the ’96 one for some reason, And I have no clue why. XD


  5. Love Johnny Lee Miller’s take on Knightly!! And wow I’ve got to look up these Emma retellings, they both look sweet!


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